The Tulane Hullabaloo

From the Basement: Rethinking seeding changes in the NBA

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From the Basement is a weekly column in which the Hullabaloo Sports team discusses its opinion on contemporary sports issues.

The NBA has proven time and time again that it is the most innovative league in sports. From changing the format of the All-Star Game to feature a schoolyard style draft, to implementing a confidential hotline to report sexual harassment, commissioner Adam Silver has made impressive strides in improving the Association’s image.

The overwhelmingly positive response to this year’s All-Star Game has spurred Silver and other Association executives to consider a much more drastic change: altering the NBA’s playoff format to include the eight best teams in each conference as a single group, rather than retaining a series within each conference.

The motivation for such an extreme shift stems from the NBA’s lack of parity. Many fans complain about the laughable predictability of the league, even going as far as claiming the regular season is pointless, since we all know which two teams will make it to the Finals before the first game is played.

These grievances are not unfounded. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors have faced off for a record-breaking three consecutive years since 2015.

In addition, the conferences are undoubtedly lopsided in terms of talent, with the Western Conference boasting eight of Sports Illustrated’s top 10 players in the league. It follows that LeBron James of the Cavaliers has been one of reseeding’s most vocal opponents, considering that his teams, residing in the weaker Eastern conference, have made it to the NBA Finals for the past seven years. Still, this change may be a bit too severe, even for Silver and the progressive NBA.

Altering the playoffs seeding would be, above all else, impractical. The playoffs currently feature a 2-2-1-1-1 format for each round, where two games are played at the better-performing team’s arena, two at the other team’s arena, and finally three games alternating between each location, if necessary. Games are typically only separated by one day. Reseeding would make traveling and practicing extremely difficult, as teams may have to fly from coast to coast in a matter of hours.

As for the issue of parity, we have seen this situation before. The Lakers and Celtics have met a record 12 times in the Finals, including six times in the 1960s. Furthermore, this year has been unpredictable enough, with the Cavs occupying only the third spot in the East and a likely new MVP being crowned in the Houston Rockets’ James Harden. Plus, changing the playoff format is not going to change the fact that the Warriors arguably have four of the 20 best players in the league.

An improvement in parity will most likely have to result from a change in the rules regarding these “superteams,” not the playoffs. But for now, with viewership at its highest since 2011, the NBA does not need fixing.

Regardless, this is all probably a moot point since Silver would need two thirds of the teams’ owners to vote in favor of reseeding, something that will likely not be possible for at least a few years. It looks like LeBron will not be giving up his conference throne any time soon.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Bella is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
From the Basement: Rethinking seeding changes in the NBA